(noun) A communal nesting ground for gregarious birds consisting of anywhere from just a few nests to hundreds of nesting pairs. Named for the communally-nesting rook (Corvus frugilegus) of Europe and Asia, rookeries are used by a number of bird species, most notably herons, egrets and cormorants, as well as several types of corvids. In the rookery, each nest is typically independent, with parent birds caring for only their nestlings. Multiple adult birds may gang up on intruders to defend the nesting area, however.
Most rookeries are found in wetland areas or locations where multiple nesting sites may be scarce. Large trees or groups of trees are favored rookery locations, and islands are especially popular for nesting wading birds. When a large rookery is near a neighborhood, however, the noise and mess – from feces and molting down – from hundreds of birds can be problematic.
A rookery can be an excellent opportunity for birders to observe nests, but it is important to avoid disturbing the birds in any way. Rookeries can be used for many years, and are often considered protected areas to keep the birds safe while raising their young.
Photo – Great Egret © Mike Baird, flickr.bairdphotos.com